The Wattles Jacobs Education Center

The Wattles Jacobs Education Center

Wattles Jacobs Education Center planning and construction continues on pace. Expected occupancy is fall 2015.  

For more information on the campaign to build the Wattles Jacobs Education Center, please contact Alison Smart, Senior Director of Development, at (508) 717-6815.  Ways to Give Card (JPEG) 611kb

Building Brochure (PDF)   |    Top 12 Reasons   |   The Team    |    Construction Updates  

Capital Campaign Letter

Capital Campaign Co-Chairs
George B. Mock III and Donald S. Rice


Dear Friends,

On May 19, 2014 the New Bedford Whaling Museum will break ground for the construction of its new Education Center and Research Library. The culmination of years of planning and fundraising, the new building will at long last allow the Museum to consolidate its staff, collections, research, and educational programs on Johnny Cake Hill. This new center is certain to bring great and lasting benefits both to the Museum’s membership and the region it serves.

Through the new Center, the Museum is positioning itself to make major advances in its ability to preserve, transmit and disseminate, through education, much of the knowledge in its library and in its collection. We are most appreciative to the many supporters who have joined in this effort. Kathy and I are honored to be a part of it.

– Gurdon B. Wattles


Joan and I strongly support the Whaling Museum’s new Education Center & Research Library, a key addition which will enhance the collection and bring education, research, and tourism benefits to the region. We invite you to join the many benefactors committed to a timely completion of this exciting project.

 Dr. Irwin M. Jacobs


The combination of reaching 83% of our $6.5 million fundraising goal coupled with a strong endowment, zero debt, repeated balanced budgets and dynamic and expanding programmatic activity greatly enhances the compelling case for donor support.

Trustees have discussed at great length how best an institution such as ours, in a community like New Bedford, can most usefully apportion its resources; when and how does it operate with optimal efficiency and when and in what amount capital investment in bricks and mortar is justified? Trustees have arrived at a solution that will ensure the long-term viability of the institution, justifying the capital investment in infrastructure while creating a platform for growth for decades into the future.

Over its 111 year history, dedicated and far-sighted members have consistently stepped forward to help underwrite the Museum’s mission and ensure its economic stability. The entire region has benefitted from this generosity - from local grade-schoolers to world renowned scholars; from the descendants of 19th century whalemen to every member of the community with an interest in the history, culture and art of the South Coast. We earnestly hope that you will become part of this great tradition and help to make the Education Center and Research Library a reality.

George B. Mock III
Capital Campaign Co-Chair

Donald S. Rice
Capital Campaign Co-Chair



Background of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center

Following four years of study, it is the strong conviction of Trustees that for programmatic, organizational, fiduciary and most importantly mission-focused reasons, the Whaling Museum must build a new educational center and research library contiguous to its existing complex on Johnny Cake Hill. This new center will allow the Whaling Museum to do its part in the addressing educational needs in the City of New Bedford today. Specifically, it will meet the dramatically expanded programming needs of the Whaling Museum. It will not subvert exhibition nor collection priorities, but quite to the contrary improve collection care and bring on line new galleries. Importantly, it will serve to consolidate the entirety of the Whaling Museum’s holdings onto one campus, with significant operational efficiencies.

View of building from Water Street
View from Water Street


The first floor of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center will be highly flexible space designed to accommodate many uses. It will include an open “shop” space to house Azorean and Yankee whaleboats in addition to other large collection objects. It will feature oversized, operable doors that will open onto North Water Street, making the space ideal for community events and festivals. The first floor will also provide access to Captain Paul Cuffe Park on the corner of Union Street and Johnny Cake Hill. Importantly, this level will house a dedicated classroom and home base for the Museum’s high school Apprentice Program.

The second floor features the grand entrance and main lobby to the Wattles Jacobs Education Center, located just off Johnny Cake Hill. The majority of this level will be devoted to the proper care and storage of the Whaling Museum’s priceless collection. This highly secure area will be climate and humidity controlled and will tie into the existing collection storage vault.

The third floor will be dedicated to classroom and library functions. Two 760 sq. foot classrooms with direct access into the Whaling Museum’s galleries will serve the Whaling Museum’s 12,000+ students participating in formal school programs (3x the space of our current classroom.) The research library reading room will accommodate visiting scholars, student researchers and Whaling Museum visitors with interest in the library’s vast collection of whaling logbooks, manuscript collections, and printed materials.

The fourth floor will operate as a gallery and multi-use space. It will be regularly utilized for weddings, corporate events and business meetings. An outdoor terrace, to be named in honor of Dr. Peter and Ruth Sweetser by their daughter Suzy Brenninkmeyer, will offer expansive views of New Bedford Harbor.

The “Team”

Mount Vernon Group Architects (MVG)
MVG was selected at the inception of the project in 2011. Since then, they have worked tirelessly to collaborate with Museum staff, Trustees and the local historic commission, to design a multi-functional and flexible building with a quietly elegant exterior. MVG’s design will be a fitting addition to the historic district, and will diminutively compliment its stately neighbor, the Bourne Building. The company was established in 1954 and has been led by Principal Architect Frank Tedesco since 1992. MVG has designed over 150 educational buildings for both public and independent clients: elementary schools, middle schools and high schools, as well as college and university buildings.

Page Building Construction Co.
The Buildings and Grounds Committee selected Page Building Construction Co. as a result of a competitive bid process in late 2013. Page’s Anthony DiGiantommaso will oversee all construction services for the Wattles Jacobs Education Center. The Whaling Museum has a strong relationship with DiGiantommaso following his direction of the $4 million restoration of the 1916 Bourne Building with Bufftree Building Company. Mr. DiGiantommaso was chiefly responsible for completing this critical project on-time and on-budget.

Owner’s Project Manager, Coggeshall & Company and Suffolk Construction
Jeffrey Gouveia serves as the Owner’s Project Manager and Representative, assisted by Grant Garnier of Suffolk Construction. They will ensure the delivery of a high quality and collaborative construction process as the key contact between MVG, Page Construction and all sub-contractors. Mr. Gouveia’s significant projects include an award-winning historic renovation of the Liberty Hotel in Boston (the former Charles Street Jail,) in addition to the Mandarin Oriental Boston Hotel and Consolidated Car Rental Facility at Logan Airport.


Official Ground Breaking Ceremony of the Wattles Jacobs Education Center on Vimeo.  (1:15:48)


Top Twelve Reasons for building a new
Educational Center and Research Library

1 Quadruple educational classroom space
2  Dedicate space for the innovative High School Apprenticeship Program
3 Renovate and connect to the Sundial Building and Captain Paul Cuffe Park
4 Expand the roof-deck with stunning views of New Bedford harbor
5  Beautify Water Street and Johnny Cake Hill by building on a vacant lot
6  Bring all programs, collections, staff and volunteers under one roof
7  Install climate-control systems throughout the entire Johnny Cake Hill campus
8 Enhance the visitor experience with a more cohesive floor plan
9 Add 4 new public galleries to display more of the collection
10 Computer climate controlled vaults with compact storage for the collection
11 Gain efficiencies and energy savings by consolidating all assets into a modern facility
12 Expand access to the Research Library by connecting to the main galleries


Last Modified: February 5, 2015